A formative assessment is an evaluation of student comprehension and needs that occurs in the midst of a lesson, unit or course. The purpose of a formative assessment is to help students learn and to improve the learning process itself. The following are common types of formative assessment.
Pre-assessmentAsking students what they know about a topic or performing an initial test, assignment or activity designed to explore initial knowledge. This can be used to shape a lesson to be more useful.
Exit TicketA questionnaire or activity that is designed to uncover a student's understanding of a lesson at its completion. This can be actioned with review sessions, changes to lessons and individual attention.
QuestioningContinually involving students in a lesson by asking questions and encouraging questions.
SynthesisHaving students design or create something based on what they have learned. For example, a lesson about urban planning that asks students to design a park by drawing it.
Misconception CheckQuestions and activities designed to detect and address misconceptions. Teachers may research common misconceptions as part of a lesson plan or may leverage their own experience in teaching a topic to uncover misconceptions that students may have developed. These can then be probed with questions and activities.
Interview AssessmentsInformal chats with students to see how well they are progressing. This often takes the form of walking around the classroom as students work on an exercise or activity to check on their progress.Performance feedback such as a piano teacher who tells a student when a note was off.Direct feedback that automatically flows from an activity. For example, students who are asked to mix water colors to produce new colors using color theory.
Extrinsic FeedbackFeedback based on observation such as feedback from a teacher or peer. Extrinsic feedback can also involve a student viewing their own performance on video.
Peer ReviewHaving students provide feedback to each other for an assignment or activity.
Self-AssessmentAsking students to evaluate their own comprehension or performance. For example, asking students to show red, green and yellow cards to indicate how well they understood a lesson segment. This can be used to dive deeper into a topic that is poorly understood or provide additional instruction to a student who feels they are falling behind.
Feedback that indicates results such as math problems that come with a list of answers.
Low-stakes EvaluationsTests, assignments and activities that are scored with minimal impact on the final grade. For example, a language class that asks students to submit a journal entry each week with a 5% total weighting. Such an assignment helps teachers to understand student progress and needs.
Pop QuizzesSurprise tests that are typically given a low weighting. This has fallen out of vogue as it can put students with different learning styles and abilities at a disadvantage. However, pop quizzes generate creative tension and can increase student engagement with the sense that a quiz can appear at any moment. As such, it can be appropriate for programs geared to high performing students.
DipsticksA term for extremely short activities, exercises and assignments that are used to assess how well students understood a lesson. For example, asking students to develop an analogy to explain a concept in a three minute activity.
Reflective AssessmentAsking students to reflect on a lesson. How well did you understand it? Which part was most difficult to understand? Why was it important? How can it be applied? How did it make you feel? What else could have we done? How would to explain it to someone else?
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